Title still up for grabs as Hakuho stays in hunt


Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho exacted swift revenge over bogey man Kisenosato on Friday, producing a power-packed display to blow the title race wide open heading into the final weekend of the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament.

Defeat dropped Kisenosato into a three-way share of the lead at 10-3 with veteran Mongolian Kyokutenho and fourth-ranked Tochiozan at the 15-day basho, at Ryogoku Kokugikan while Hakuho (9-4) revived his hopes of a 23rd Emperor’s Cup, despite wrestling with a fractured finger. Rank-and-filers Okinoumi and Aoiyama are tied with Hakuho in second place.

Overnight leader Kisenosato, famous for ending Hakuho’s streak of 63 consecutive wins at the 2010 Kyushu Basho, was looking to follow up on his victory at the last tourney in March.

But Hakuho had other ideas and wasted no time sending the ozeki packing with his best impression of a juggernaut.

A championship win for either Kisenosato, Tochiozan or Okinoumi would be the first by a Japanese-born wrestler since now retired Tochiazuma won the New Year Basho as an ozeki in 2006.

Kyokutenho moved into double digits when he toppled 11th-ranked Sadanofuji (5-8) with an under-shoulder swing down, and Tochiozan soaked up a flurry of thrusts from Aminishiki (7-6) before charging the komusubi out of the dohyo.

Elsewhere, Harumafuji moved to within one bout of a winning record, drawing in Baruto with a clever arm pull and shoving his fellow ozeki off the raised clay to a fifth loss.

Kotooshu secured a majority of wins with his second straight victory over an ozeki rival, the Bulgarian tipping Mongolian Kakuryu off the straw ridge to leave both men with 8-5 marks.

Kotoshogiku was dumped to a fifth defeat, the ozeki getting sent sprawling to the dirt by a well-timed beltless arm throw from sekiwake Goeido (7-6).